Did your skin get splotchy this summer?

splotchy skin compositeIn addition to the wonderful memories and sea shells we collected this summer, almost all of us (including me) have additionally collected some hyper-pigmentation in our skin. Beyond a “sun tan” that many crave, this uneven darkening or splotchy-spottiness stimulated by longer exposure to the sun each day, is a condition I see frequently in my practice and is the one condition that elicits the most complaints. Happily, by following the proper skin care regimen and using the right products, you can regain clarity in your skin.

For example, Elizabeth S. first came to me to see me a couple of years ago while visiting her sister in Canterbury. During our consultation, she told me that the brown spots on her face were bothering her and asked if anything could be done to alleviate them. I explained to her that the spots were a result of too much time in the sun and put together a plan for her that I felt would mitigate the damage. I’ll let Elizabeth take it from here:

“I live in Montana, so I’m outside a lot,” Elizabeth recalls. “I use sunscreen, but I still get a fair amount of exposure. I had developed dark spots above my eyes and on my cheeks, and when I first saw Jane a couple of years ago, she told me it was sun damage and recommended a skincare routine to follow that would help to repair the damage. I began using the Refining PLUS Concentrate and I’ve had great success—my spots have almost completely disappeared! Euchlora products are wonderful and they really work!”

Another client, Christine M., began to be troubled by the appearance of dark spots on her face after the birth of her first child. Although the patches were similar to Elizabeth’s in appearance, in this case they were melasma, a hormone-induced condition. Fortunately, for Christine as for Elizabeth, there was a remedy. Christine explains it best:

“I began having a problem with melasma right after giving birth to my oldest daughter. It started on my forehead, then moved to my temples, my cheeks, and finally to my upper lip. I spoke to Jane about the problem and she said it was likely hormonal. She recommended I start treating the condition with Euchlora’s Refining PLUS Concentrate. I began using the product and noticed a difference within a few weeks. The spots continued to fade over time, to the point where they are virtually imperceptible. And they haven’t returned!”

As the experiences of these two clients’ illustrate, hyper-pigmentation can be a troublesome condition, but handled properly, it’s not one that you must live with indefinitely.  Please contact me for your own consultation.  Jane

Beaching treatment PAM

Natural bug repellents that cause sunburning

sun sensitivity plant oils For those of us in New England who love the outdoors, the biting insects that show up at this time of year can be annoying! And if we have concerns about using chemical bug repellents on our bodies, using plant fragrance oils give us natural protection and peace of mind. But beware; many of the common oils used in natural bug repellents can increase your risk of sunburn and allergic reaction!

natural-vs-chemical-ingredientsPlant fragrance oils (called essential oils) are the volatile essences of various plant materials. Extracted from the plant in a concentrated form, these oils contain the assorted organic components of the plant.  As a visual, think of the viles in a chemistry lab; like these, essential oils are intensely active and flammable combinations of chemicals.

The chemical constituent coumarin occurs in many common plants and is responsible for lending a particular sweet smell.  However, when coumarin is applied directly to the skin it absorbs UV light then releases it into the dermis creating photosensitivity (reactivity to UV light).  Wearing any of the following plant oils that contain coumarin while in the sun greatly increases your risk of sun burning, sun spotting or developing an allergic rash.


  • lavender
  • common orange
  • mandarin orange
  • bergamot
  • lemon
  • cassia “cinnamon”
  • Calendula
  • angelica

And if you happen to be experimenting with rare and unusual essential oils or bathing in herbs ( 🙂 ), parsley, tarragon and celery also contain coumarins!

It is further interesting to note that coumarins have been synthesized in the laboratory for use in making perfumes adding that particular sweet smell.  This could explain why many/most synthetic fragrances create photosensitivity!  The ramifications are endless; fragranced soaps, shampoos, sunscreens, body lotions… this is one of the reason why I am an advocate for avoiding synthetic fragrance.

The most effective essential oil I have found to repel bugs is Eucalyptus Citriodoro.  The Nation Center for Disease Control has classified this as a suitable replacement for DEET.  You may have noticed the postings at some of the trail heads in New Hampshire mentioning this.  Stacia uses this on her horses to repeal flies.

You might enjoy my Outdoor Freedom, a skin conditioning & soothing lotion that provides natural, chemical-free sunblocking while additionally repelling bugs. Sweat resistant and non-greasy with a silky dry finish. Along with zinc oxide, plant extract Eucalyptus Citriodoro creates an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin while providing an uplifting citrus/eucalyptus scent. SPF around 30-40; apply liberally for best protection. Sitting in the yard side by side with David, black flies are all over him while not a one is touching me when wearing this. The smell reminds me of summer!

I also sell the oil alone by the 1/2 oz.

603-491-7305   jbalshaw@comcast.net

All about skin spotting


Hyper-pigmentation or darkening of the skin is the most often complained about skin condition I hear in my practice.  Whether the spotting is from sun exposure (solar lentigines) or melasma/cholasma (hormone induced blotches) we all wish for the smooth, even complexion of our youth pre-pregnancy, pre-acne or pre-sun-worshipping.   It’s those darkened splotches that stare back at us in the mirror each day and remind us of our transgressions or hormones gone awry.  Most of us want them gone.


Vanity aside, those darkened areas are the residual effect of our bodies immune system actually protecting our skin.  The darker the spot the more evidence we have of our skin working to protect us from the sun by releasing an extra dose of protective melanin [skin pigment].  Good job little spots!

But the greater implication of the skin spotting is the knowledge that our skin was vulnerable when exposed to the sun so it had to hyper-protect itself.  I hate to tell you this, but even a suntan is your skins way of trying to create a barrier of protection with its own darkened color!  If you think of the worlds genetic population, naturally darker skin tones originated closer to the equator where the sun is most intense as self-protection and the more fair skins originated further away where less protection was needed.


Any injury or toxin in the skin leaves it sensitive to sun exposure.  An acne wound, a burn, a scratch, esthetic peels, plastic surgery… OR spikes of hormones* from pregnancy, birth control, hormonal replacement, stress…OR certain prescription drugs, recreational drugs… OR toxic topically applied compounds that the body wants to reject like synthetic fragrance, certain chemicals, …  there is an endless list.  Any healthy, active immune system will stimulate a release of pigment to protect its skin.

Unfortunately, once this protection occurs, it becomes permanent memory in the skin cells and pigment continues to be released at the site when ever the skin is exposed to the sun.  Fading these pigment clusters or spots requires sun avoidance and topically applying compounds that suppress the tendency for melanin to cluster and compounds that will bleach the existing pigmentation.  Removing pigmented skin cells through peeling products or treatments can be helpful too just as long as avoidance of sun is adhered to, otherwise the process can make new hyper-pigmentation.


Like ingesting nutritional food will get the benefits to your whole body, ingredients that help fade spots must be administered in a way that can be penetrated into the skin.  There is a science to it; ingredients just rubbed on won’t significantly work just like rubbing carrots on your face won’t help your eye sight!  Ingredients carried into the layers of the skin through additional ingredients or specific processes will have the most effect. This is why using products formulated for professional use with a specific process in mind work and why the over-the-counter preparations are less successful.

To fully achieve lightening results, it is important to understand the process through which melanin is formed in the skin cells.  It is a highly complicated process involving a variety of proteins, enzymes, and amino acids.

  1. Stimulation occurs (sun exposure, injury, hormone dumps, topical skin sensitizers)
  2. The tyrosinase enzyme in the skin is activated and triggers the release of melanotropin, a  polypeptide hormone.
  3. Melanotropin MSH (Melanin Stimulating Hormone) activates the production of melanin pigment.
  4. Melanin transfers into the keratinocyte skin cells that will accept and hold the pigment.

natural-vs-chemical-ingredientsConsequently, there are several possibilities where the synthesis of melanin can be inhibited or decreased. The depigmenting compounds that are currently being formulated with achieve depigmentation by one of the following mechanisms; either by inhibiting tyrosinase synthesis or its activity, by inhibiting MSH synthesis, by helping the skin to resist spotting or by removing the pigmented cells.

Compounds that bleach darkened areas of the skin or help it resist pigmentation through sun exposure:  All forms of vitamin C and citrus oils (never apply directly to the skin and do not wear IN the sun – like a peel, the skin is sensitized initially), vitamin B-3, herbal extracts of peppermint, chamomile and mallow, kojic acid (derived from rice)

Compounds that inhibit the creation of melanin.  Azelaic acid (derived from wheat, rye and barley); hydroquinone (long-term toxicity and banned in many countries); mequiol (a derivative of hydroquinone); plant extracts: primrose, ladys mantle, veronica, melissa, yarrow, bearberry leaves, licorice root, mulberry, gooseberry, turmeric root, creeping saxifrage, grape-vine, skullcap; alpha albutin (a bio-synthetic); undecylenoyl phenylananine (amino acid); tetrapeptide (a synthesized protein), aloesin (from aloe vera); lemon peel ferment

Compounds that help to remove pigmented skin cells:  Alpha hydroxy acids (Glycolic acid, lactic acid, tartaric) beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic), pumice, enzymes, retinoids, trichloric acid, phenols, some essential oil plant extracts.

*estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, adrenalin and cortisol are the most common hormones produced in our body or taken orally that trigger the hyper production of melanin.

The protocol for fading hyper-pigmentation:

  1. For severe hyper-pigmentation, one or several on-going professional treatments to remove pigmented skin cells and to suppress the pigmenting process.
  2. For any hyper-pigmentation, regimented morning and nightly use of home care bleaching/inhibiting products specifically chosen for the clients skin type.  Constant adherence assures success of outcome.
  3. Daily use of sunblock/sunscreen 15 SPF or higher.
  4. Use of sunblock/sunscreen SPF 30 – 50 for prolonged exposure to the sun IN ADDITION to wearing hats and protective clothing.
  5. Avoidance of all chemicals or synthesizers causing the hyper production of melanin.